Here’s some more short story nonsense.
In the cold hours of an early April morning, Cole Lowman’s feet squelched into half-melted snow as he trudged to work, head ducked low in a tailored black overcoat. The fog hung thickly in velvet sheets, enveloping everything it touched. The sun didn’t seem to have the energy to fight the gloom these days, not that Cole could really blame it. As he walked, sleet drifted down and danced before his face, and cold air stung his eyes. Headlights of sickly yellow cut through the fog as the first car of the morning traffic felt its way along the road. The driver, a lumpy mass of scarf and coat, peered impatiently over his steering wheel as though he believed that pinched face indignation would somehow make the fog lift faster. More headlights soon appeared. The thought occurred to Cole that the world always woke up, no matter how lousy the weather. The apocalypse could occur this very morning, and no doubt people would still go about their routines, oblivious. Unless, perhaps, they pulled up beside the unusual sight of a skeletal horseman stuck in traffic. Jobs to work, money to earn and bills to pay, with the occasional buying of coffee machines and the like. The things we live for. As he squished along the footpath, his feet rapidly turning numb, Cole wondered dimly just when life had become this way. A car bounced through nearby pothole, splattering Cole with icy mud. It was going to be a dismal day.
It was 6.49am when Cole got to the corner of his bus stop. He was adhering to his usual schedule. He had somehow become a punctilious man, although he wasn’t exactly sure when or how it had happened. The bus would arrive at 6.52am, Cole would step onboard, take his usual seat, and stare out the window as the bus clattered down the road, belching black smoke and stopping intermittently to disgorge people along the way. Cole had a few minutes before he was due to cross the road to the bus stop, and paused a moment. He rubbed his hands together, and blew air on his fingers, hoping that the feeling would return to them. His employer would have little use for a frostbitten typist. His boss, a bald, permanently red-faced man with a tie that was always done up too tight, would remind Cole that he had better look after himself, because he didn’t have any sick days left. Cole sighed and watched as his breath spiralled away into the morning air. Faces buried in scarves and jackets hurried past him, each a walking set of blank eyes and headphones marching along to their own soundtrack. One set of eyes cast a glance at Cole, darting downwards and narrowing slightly, before meeting his gaze. The strangely bright eyes, set in an elegant, angular face of a young man, moved towards him. A surge of anxiety spiked in Cole’s chest, and he remained still. The strange man moved close to Cole, and leaned in. ‘Don’t be late, Cole. You’ll miss your bus’ the voice said, softly whispering in his ear. Terror spread through Cole like molten hot metal in his veins. He turned and ran. His pulse drummed in his ears and his mouth turned acrid as he hurried across the road. As he ran, his mind scrambled with panic, he wondered deliriously if anything that morning was real. Cole was prone to panic attacks, and he had been suffering more of them of late. But, in addition to their usual effects, unpleasant as they may be, there would additional consequences today. Cole would no doubt now be late. Secondly, and perhaps more seriously, it caused Cole to be completely unaware as he wandered into the path of the oncoming 409 bus. His thoughts were abruptly interrupted as the bus ploughed into him, flinging him across the road. His skin ground away against the bitumen as the world became a garbled blur of gravel and pain, spinning wildly as he tumbled. A scream sounded from an onlooker as Cole came to a stop in the gutter. Now a mangled mess of broken bones and spreading blood, his thoughts slowly ebbed away into blackness as horrified faces peered down at him.
‘Call an ambulance!’ he heard a voice shriek.
‘Not going to help him, lady. He’s a goner’ a gruff voice replied. He felt a foot poke at his side. ‘Might as well call him a hearse.’
All in all, a dismal day. But, Cole thought deliriously as his vision faded for the final time, a dismal day that was now done.
Cole’s eyes snapped open. He was seated on a worn padded chair, clothed and apparently healthy, free from any of the typical aftereffects of being run over by a bus. He had regained consciousness in a panelled room, dimly lit by a single flickering light, swaying gently from the ceiling. Yellow dust hung thickly in the air, and twisting veins of darkly coloured wood lined the room, warped and in danger of splintering apart. A single closed door stood at one end. A sickly-sweet odour of decay, a nauseating blend of decomposing wood and rotting gardenias, caused Cole to gag violently. This was not where he was supposed to be. Cole slowly rose to his feet, and ran his hands over himself. He was sure that he was supposed to be dead. But, no matter how many times he checked, everything on his body was where it should be. Moving over to a window, he peered out at a blackened sky, splattered with brilliant white cracks that spread like webs to the horizon. Straight roads with glowing streetlamps spread out into the darkness, each dotted with buildings that pumped smoke into the air in rhythmic bursts. Cole stumbled back to his chair. It was all utterly incomprehensible. He pressed his face into his hands.
‘First time?’ a voice asked.
Cole became aware that he was not alone. He looked up, and saw a young man seated in the far corner of the room. He seemed relatively normal, if somewhat unnervingly ambivalent about their current situation. As Cole focused his vision, he saw that the young man’s eyes glowed faintly, as if reflecting a candlelight that wasn’t there.
‘Is this your first time through, I mean’ said the young man. He leant back in his chair and stretched.
Cole got up and pulled frantically at the lone door, before banging on it with his fists.
‘That won’t do anything. It doesn’t open until you’re called’ he said as Cole clawed at the door. ‘Didn’t you read the sign?’ He yawned and gestured to a sign hung pointedly above the door. It read:
‘Sit until called. Do not leave the room. Do not cut the line. No fighting. And don’t forget to smile!*
*Failure to smile is an offence
Printed by Because I Said So Civic Control Corp.’
‘The no fighting part always makes me laugh,’ the young man continued. ‘I mean, what’s the point of fighting if the person you just killed can just reattach their head?’
Cole slumped into a corner, breathing rapidly. He tried to remember the breathing exercises his doctor had given him, but realised with horror that these may not work if you aren’t breathing at all. The curious young man stood, and moved over to Cole. He knelt on his haunches, and placed a hand on Cole’s shoulder.
‘I’m sorry, I forget sometimes that this isn’t exactly easy. I’m Nine. Stupid name, I know, but it isn’t my original. Long story.’ He took Cole’s hand and shook it.
‘I’m … Cole.’
Nine smiled. ‘Well Cole, I find the best way is the most direct. You’re dead, and you’ve ended up here. I don’t know if this is the afterlife, but if it is, it’s pretty disappointing, really.’ Nine looked around the room, and sighed.
Coles breathing began to slow. He looked up at the young man with the glowing eyes.
‘The last thing I remember,’ Cole said, ‘was crossing a road. And maybe a bus. And pain.’ He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.
Nine grimaced. ‘You remember less each time, but that doesn’t sound like a good one. I’ve had a few bad ones myself. One happened on a roller coaster called ‘The Slicer.’ Nine walked over to the window, and peered through. ‘If I’d known it was going to be that literal, I probably wouldn’t have gotten on.’
Suddenly, an announcement sounded from a crackling speaker.
‘Cole Lowman, please enter Receiving Room One.’
Nine helped Cole to his feet, and brushed the dust from his clothes in quick swipes.
‘That’s you. Better get in there. You don’t want to miss your appointment, or you’ll end up like old man Dusty over there.’ Nine pointed to a dimly lit corner. There sat an old man, gnarled and grey, beard trailing on the ground and covered in brown dust, unmoving and blended into the wall.
‘That’s a man?’ Cole said, recoiling.
‘Used to be, I guess. No one knows how long he’s been here for. His marbles have pretty much all rolled away now.’
The old man creaked his head in their direction, dust falling from him in clumps of dirty snow.
‘On and on we try, born without being alive, but there can be no hope, in a place where not even time can fly’ the old man rasped, soil blowing from his lungs.
Cole hesitantly opened the door. A desk stood in a circle of light, behind which a tall man stood. His back turned, he was clutching an open file, his arms unnaturally long. Cole saw with horror that a noose was tied around his neck, buried into glaring red flesh. He took a step back.
‘Don’t worry. It’ll be alright. Well, maybe. But you have to go in.’ Nine placed an arm around Cole’s shoulder. ‘I’ll see you again, ok? I guarantee it.’
Cole nodded, and slowly headed into the room, the door slamming shut behind him.
Cole looked out across the vast factory. Oil dripped freely from the walls, forming brown pools upon the rivet-studded floor, shimmering with heat. Blasts of steam hissed as the machines pumped, throwing rust and metal shavings into the air where it slowly fell in polluted flakes. Sallow faces stared at the conveyor belt in front of them, assembling parts that came past. His fellow workers, some of whom still carried evidence of their latest demise, stared straight ahead through glassy eyes, mouths agape and covered in ochre grime. The strange man in the room had certainly not sugar coated it. He had been given a pamphlet, taken to a bus, shoved onboard, and promptly driven to his new place of work. The pamphlet, entitled ‘So, you’re life-impaired!’ explained that as a new arrival, Cole was entitled to a dwelling and employment, where he was expected to work. It was all part of what was termed the ‘adjusting period’. Cole could expect to work here for a few hundred years, before a position possibly opened up in management. It was not optional. Each factory was staffed with similar men to the one in the room, each with a noose around their neck, and they prowled around the factory floor, making sure that everything remained in order. They often dragged malingerers to a lower floor of the factory, and usually, they did not return. To Cole, this seemed to be a slight subversion of ‘eternal rest’. But, with no choice given, he worked.
Cole felt a tap on his shoulder. He wasn’t sure how long he had been working, or even if time really meant anything in a place such as this. He turned to see the face of Nine close to his.
‘Follow me’ Nine said, his voice low.
Cole never usually liked to leave in the middle of shifts. In his old life, he was infamous for being one of the few employees to have remained at his desk during a building fire. Luckily for Cole, it was extinguished shortly before he had to get up.
‘Yes. Now. This way.’
Ducking low, Nine slunk through the factory, avoiding the gaze of the patrolling Noose-men. He stopped at a large iron door which led outside, and gestured for Cole to hurry. Reluctantly, Cole crouched, and followed.
Cole and Nine stood on top of a cliff, overlooking an immense murky sea. The sable waves churned below, crashing into jagged rocks that stuck out like broken teeth, stained inky black by time. A lone wooden sign stood at the peak. It read: ‘Everywhere is nowhere. Everyone is no one. There is no escape’.
‘Ignore that,’ Nine said, shrugging off his jacket. ‘That’s just there as a loss-prevention device.’
Cole looked down over the edge of the cliff to the crashing waves below.
‘This next part might get a little wet. That down there, is how you get out of here. Only way to do it is to jump. Might want to hold your nose, or something.’
Cole backed away from the edge. He had never been a great swimmer.
‘That’s how to escape?’ Cole said, hugging himself against the wind. ‘Isn’t there a better way?’
Nine stripped off his shirt.
‘Believe me, I’ve looked. This is the only way. I’ve done this before.’ A tinge of sadness crept into his voice. ‘It leads to the surface, or whatever world you left behind. Problem is, they look for you, and find ways to bring you back. Each time you move between the two, you lose a little piece of yourself.’ Nine crouched, and ran his hands through the rough gravel of the clifftop, pebbles falling through his fingers. ‘Pieces chip away from you, like your memory. Nine isn’t my name. Truth is, I can’t remember it anymore. It’s only the number of times I came through here before I lost count. To be completely honest, I’m not even sure if I’m human anymore.’ Nine looked up at Cole, his eyes glowing faintly. ‘But you have to make a choice. I made mine. And now you do too.’ With that, Nine leapt off the cliff, disappearing into the waves below.
Cole was never one to break rules. His whole life he had done what he was told, sat up as straight as he could, and the only thing it had gotten him was the privilege of being hit by a bus. He wasn’t sure of it, but he felt he was close to grasping the answer to a question that had long eluded him. The answer lay at the bottom of that cliff. With a deep breath, Cole stepped off the edge, into the abyss below.
I wrote this in a bar for a word slam/poetry event. I was going to read it out, but realised that it kinda sounded like a suicide note and decided to keep quiet.
I’m graying in the good life
and I want a better way to die
Breathing is boring
and the best things are worth ignoring
I’m laughing all the way into the ground
I took the hypocritic oath
and refused the revolution
Old habits die stupid, don’t you know
the edges are nearly worn away
Well-fed and threadbare
Who am I to complain
Nameless and blameless it shall read
so remember me on the side of the road
Hello. It has been a while since the last post, I know. It’s busy work wasting time, believe me. Anyway, here’s a little something I wrote for a class I took last year. It still needs work, and isn’t all that subtle, but like I said, it’s not like I get paid. I also couldn’t think of a good title. Those things are hard.
Hector was fairly certain that he wasn’t crazy, but it seemed that something always disagreed with him. The device on his wrist was the main culprit, frequently telling him that he was indeed crazy. It had started early today. ‘Hector Hemmingway!’ it flashed in lurid green. ‘You’re crazy if you pass up on this!’. It then proceeded to show him an advertisement for televisions. Hector already had a television. In fact, he had six of them. In his mind, this raised the uncomfortable question of just who exactly was watching who. It was a cold April morning, and Hector huddled into his coat as he hurried down a city street. He was leaving forever, he had decided. Once out of the city, he would go south, to somewhere quiet and peaceful where green was the colour of grass, and not of neon. Still, the device on his wrist chattered at him. He pressed angrily at it, although he knew that it was impossible to turn it off. At birth, everyone was given a device that was attached to the wrist, and would flash brightly with offers at various points during the day. These could never be removed or turned off. As a consolation, you did eventually get to choose a colour. Hector’s was blue. He had grown to hate the colour. They only displayed advertisements, and it was mandatory that one of these offers be accepted, regardless if one had a need for the product or not.
Before he left the city, he had one last thing to do. Hector slipped into an alley, and when he was sure that no one was watching, ripped the device from his wrist. This was a terrible crime. The morning crowds rushed past, no one noticing that a cardinal sin had just been committed in their presence. The removal of your device meant disappearing into a rehabilitation facility, and they surely would be coming for him now.
’You’re crazy!’ the device implored, as it lay on the ground. Hector poked at it with his toe, curious about the object that for so long had dictated his life. It presented a compelling second opinion to be sure, and Hector knew that the world had just become a lot more dangerous. But, he just couldn’t continue with this life. As he cautiously ducked out of the alley and back into the flow of people on the street, he reflected that although his recent conclusion there was something terribly wrong with the world had not come easily, it was nonetheless an important place to have arrived at. He was smart enough to know that it was a dangerous opinion to have, and so had initially decided to ignore it, doing his best to bury it amongst the minutiae of daily life. Despite his efforts, he had found it increasingly difficult to escape from. It had progressed in an infuriatingly resolute manner, and Hector’s inability to disregard it had bothered him greatly. The thought begun small and difficult to grasp, only flickering briefly before fading away, like a dying bulb. As time went on, it grew steadily until it began to feel as if he was waking from a dream. It was now present when he woke in the morning, and as he walked down the street, bursting into his thoughts with increasing frequency throughout the day. It had even begun to enter his dreams, where nightmares of being an increasingly faded photocopy woke him gasping for breath. Impossible to placate, and yet equally impossible to act upon; it was the worst kind of idea. But now, with the idea formed and actionable, he finally had purpose. Lost in thought, Hector bumped solidly into a passer-by. This was the kind of slip-up that could end an escape before it began, and Hector’s bare wrist was now a giveaway. Panicked, Hector began to apologise repeatedly, but the man was focused on his wrist, and didn’t glance up. Instead, he turned to the woman next to him.
‘Look honey!’ he said, pointing. ‘Half-price vacuum cleaners, now we can have one for each room!’
‘Good idea, I’ll get some too!’ the woman replied, tapping furiously.
The clocks struck over to midday, and it was time for the mandatory buy. As the clocks chimed, everyone stopped in place and looked hungrily to their various devices, eagerly awaiting the new round of offers. Hector joined in with the routine for what he hoped was the last time, his face adopting the accepted expression of eager anticipation. It was safer that way. Cars stopped in the streets, their drivers now occupied with more important tasks. This caused more than few accidents, but no one seemed to mind. A large Cadillac collided with a wall, spilling its driver onto the hood. He smiled groggily as he accepted an offer for discounted helmets. Activity resumed as the daily buy ended, and the cars began moving again, inching their way to their various destinations through a maze of steel and tinted windows.
Hector was close to the station now. All he had to do was purchase a ticket, and he would be on his way. He saw a familiar face approaching, and ducked into his jacket. It was his neighbour, Davidson. He was genial, enthusiastic man who always wanted to discuss his latest purchases with Hector. Short, rotund and blessed with the unpleasant skill of being able to sneak up on people, he frequently cornered Hector every morning, wherever he may be. His round face would flush brightly whenever he discussed whatever products he had purchased recently, and had a habit of bouncing excitedly on his feet, like a child would do. Hector hated him intensely. He briefly considered turning around, but Davidson had spotted him immediately, and was homing in on him like a beige missile.
‘Hector!’ Davidson called as he pushed through the crowd. Too late now. Hector turned, and with some effort adopted a smile.
‘Hello Davidson. Cold morning, isn’t it?’ Hector said. He never quite knew why he always said more than was necessary. Was being rude to a man he hated such a terrible thing? No one seemed to be rude anymore. Everyone greeted each other with smiles as plastic as the products they bought, and had grown so used to it that the alternative seemed unthinkable.
‘Oh yes, deathly cold’ Davidson said. ‘Glad I bought that crate of surplus thermals during the last weekly special.’
Hector hoped he wouldn’t continue.
‘Sure, some of them have a bit of a chemical smell,’ Davidson continued. ‘But the price was right, and it gave us a chance to use the seven surplus boxes of air freshener we bought. Personally, I think new car is a fine thing to smell like.’
Hector glanced longingly at the entrance the station.
‘Say, you don’t look well.’ Davidson said, adopting a look of concern. ‘Are you buying enough?’ He placed a hand on Hector’s shoulder. Hector looked at the pink, chubby hand resting on his coat and felt a throbbing begin to grow behind his eyes.
‘Yes, I’m buying as much I should. I meet the quota every week.’
‘Well it can’t hurt to go above, can it? Me and the wife go above every week, just to be safe. I hear that they recently caught a bunch of people who hadn’t been spending for weeks. Can you believe it? Weeks!’
‘You don’t say? Shocking.’ Hector hoped he sounded an appropriate level of appalled.
‘So, what was your latest buy?’ Davidson asked.
‘Well, it was …’
The silence dragged out as Hector struggled to think of an answer. It was unthinkable that someone would not remember their last purchase, but Hector had frozen, unable to think as the possible answers became hopelessly jumbled in his head. To be foiled by the most innocuous of questions seemed a strangely ironic way for him to be caught.
‘You don’t remember your last buy?’ Davidson said, now suspicious. ‘Are you sure you’re feeling alright?’
Hector began to back away slowly. His pulse thumped in his ears as he edged towards the station. If he could just make it inside, everything would be fine.
‘Your wrist …’ Davidson had noticed Hector’s bare wrist. It was only a matter of time now. Davidson’s mouth opened in mute terror, and he pointed at Hector.
‘Saver!’ he screamed shrilly. ‘You’re a Saver!’
Everyone in the immediate vicinity froze. To be labelled a Saver, one who did not spend, was to be branded a dangerous deviant, and those who were labelled as such frequently disappeared, only to emerge sometime later as drooling shadows of what they used to be. A woman screamed. He turned to run, but a crowd had formed, blocking his path. ‘Saver! Saver!’ the crowd screamed. A rock struck him in the head, drawing blood. It would only take moments for them to tear him apart.
With a shove, Hector forced his way through the crowd, and sprinted into the station. His only chance was to hope he could board a train, and escape the city before his identity was circulated. As he barged through the doors of the station, a black van shrieked to a halt behind him. Men clad in black uniforms, their faces hidden behind masks, emerged in precise and co-ordinated movements. Armed with truncheons, they were the feared Green Boots, named for the striking green colour of their footwear. They were responsible for keeping order, and ensuring that people met their daily buy quota. Few ever encountered them and returned. With surprising speed, they pursued Hector into the station. Hector gasped for breath as he willed his legs to go faster, his sight set on the nearest train, which was preparing to depart. If he could somehow get onto the train before the Green Boots reached him, he would be safe. The rhythmic thump of boots grew louder behind him. Nearly at the train, Hector put the last of his energy into one final burst. All those exercise machines he had bought were perhaps not such a waste after all. Suddenly, a shiny black shoe emerged from the crowd, and tripped Hector in one swift motion. He crashed to the tiles of the station floor, only a few feet from the train that was to be his salvation. Dazed and gasping for breath, Hector rolled onto his back and stared at the station ceiling. A black-suited figure stood over him, and a curiously friendly face leaned in.
‘Hello, Hector. Let’s have a talk, shall we?’
Some months later, Hector sat on a park bench on an overcast day. The season had turned, and now the leaves floated to the ground around him, blown along the concrete on a chill breeze. An offer flashed up on his wrist. Hector smiled as he accepted it, a scar prominent on his forehead. ‘You’re crazy if you miss this!’ the device said.
Ok, so I’m starting something new. I’ll continue on with this as I write more. I’m not entirely sure where its headed, so hopefully I figure it out at some point. I also hope it doesn’t suck.
Erys stood on the corner of a busy city street, idly drawing upon a cigarette as the crowds hurried past, scurrying about in chaotic patterns before disappearing into the maw of the creeping grey smog. Blank, flat-effect faces pushed past him, scarves wrapped over their mouths in futile opposition to the oppressive smoke. He didn’t mind the smog, inescapable as it was. It pressed its back against the dirty panes of the giant downtown buildings and crept its way down your lungs with dusty fingers, but to him, it was the warm cloak of anonymity. In a world of industry gone mad, where the machine of the city constantly churned and devoured the identities of those who composed it, it was easy to hide. He liked that. It sprawled black and wide, steel and concrete fingers reaching deep into the sky, obliterating the sun with cold indifference. Plenty of shadows in which to remain unnoticed. This would soon be a valuable commodity. However, standing amongst it, he realised that one felt small, preyed upon. At street level, sections where the exterior of the buildings had begun to wear and drop away revealed the clockwork innards of gears and pistons, a reminder that the city was alive, watching. Hungry. He lit another cigarette. ‘Those things will kill you, Erys’ he remembered his wife used to say to him, scolding gently, her mouth suppressing the beginnings of a smile. He could smell her hair, hear her voice. The memory stung inside his head. She was gone now. He instinctively put his hand to his heart, and felt the clicking of machinery beneath. Taken from him. Agents of the city, the Gearmen, took anyone they deemed necessary and they had come for them one night, kicking the door to splinters and proclaiming in their icy monotone that this was for the greater good. Bound and stunned, a syringe had been jammed in his neck, full of an oozing cocktail that thickened his blood and stopped his heart. He had heard stories like this, of people vanishing in the deepest of night, before returning a few days later, always different. Their minds were altered, chemicals having dug their roots deep into their brain, and their bodies twisted into metal nightmares, limbs or organs replaced with a jumbled mess of cogs and camshafts. They never lived long. He had never believed it could be true. Erys had awoken, alone and disorientated, his wife now taken to a fate unknown, a burning spike of pain in his chest where his heart once resided. He dropped the cigarette, stomping it to embers beneath his feet. He was not a man prone to letting go of things easily, and too much had been taken to not demand retribution. And he knew just where to start. It all starts with the city. ‘A lot of things can kill you,’ he recalled he answered his wife one morning. ‘It just makes it easier to find the things worth living for.’
The shadows grew long, and Erys glanced at his watch. It would be night soon. With the sun mostly hidden it was hard to tell, such was life here, but the punctuality of the system was one thing that could be relied upon. He moved away from the corner, taking up position on the other side of the street. Erys knew he needed to watch carefully. If he missed the right building, he was unsure whether he would get another chance, as some took months to reappear, and others not at all. His heart clicked briefly, metal snagging inside his chest, before an aberrant rhythm began to labour, geartrains grinding and threatening to cease. ‘Please, not now’ he whispered to himself. Darkness began to dance around the corners of his vision, calling on him to succumb, to give in to the malfunction within. Staggering, he clawed desperately at his heart, begging it to continue. He had to go on. For her. Finally, his heart began to resume its normal rhythm. The shadows dissipated as he gasped for breath, willing the life back into his chest. Slowly, he stood upright. Crimson spots of blood lay scattered around his feet. Feeling at his nose, he hand came away smeared with red and oil. He was running out of time.
Crunching of gears signalled the beginning of the next cycle, as the buildings began moving to life. The crowds dispersed off the street, heading swiftly for their residential complexes, or the nearest entertainment centre, painted gaudily and spotted with lights to attract the attention of those passing by. They had never really been his scene, serving cheap spirits to assuage the heartless. Cogs began to move achingly, as steam poured from the outlet pipes above each floor. The interiors began to shift, reassembling itself to suit a new nightly purpose. Yellow light crept from within, spreading out upon the street in smears. One floor rotated inwards, guided along strained metal rails, throwing coppery rust like polluted snow, before it disappeared into the buildings entrails, and vanished from sight. Another began to work down into its place, a night cycle facility, waiting to accept its workers and maintainers. All over the city this was happening, the nightly re-purposing of itself, a monster shedding its skin. But, he was looking for one building in particular, and he had been given information that it would appear tonight, in this sector. This information had not been easy to attain, and had cost him more than he cared to remember, but it would be worth it by the end. It had to be worth it. Then, he saw it. A dark, metal-veined building came sliding out to the streetfront, revealing itself through coils of steam. It dripped oil, pooling upon the street in industrial lakes, as gears clicked through its metal plated skin. Possessing a solitary riveted door, it did not look inviting. A grime covered plate above the door read ‘INTERNAL’. This was it. He was sure of it. Erys clutched his heart, and approached the door.
I’m not exactly sure what I’ve written here, and it is a little out of my usual style. Way more halting, and I usually love commas. Like, a lot. I only began with a vague idea about an obsessive-compulsive Pathologist. Only after did I hit on trying to impress the idea of a guy more comfortable with the dead than the living. Not that original I guess, but felt like writing tonight, so here it is. Only short, but hey, I don’t get paid much. Or at all.
I glanced at the clock. 2 pm. Time to begin. I approached the bench, counting each step as I went. Five steps. Chart clenched stiffly in my hands, the deceased’s information was typed in black, standing prominent against the sterile page. Aseptic. Lifeless and unchanging. Thirty years of age. Massive cerebral hemorrhage. But the particulars didn’t concern me much. An autopsy had to be performed. I had a job to do, and it was routine. It had to be routine. It was the only way to cope, really. Due to this, I had to start now. Muted tinges of anxiety began to grab, as the seconds marched forward to 2.01 pm. I couldn’t start at 2.01. That just wouldn’t work. No one starts at times like that. It was very stressful sometimes. Life has so many variables, a chaotic unplanned disaster that pained me at every moment I couldn’t ignore. Here, I had my routine. It had to be the same. I rushed through my preparation. Tools laid out, descending in particular order, metal shining and edges grinning. Superiority dictated by usefulness. Life was not as simple, but death could be. The gloves were speckled with dust. Catastrophe. A big deal. I couldn’t continue. Yet, I couldn’t restart as much as I could reverse time. That power was beyond me, even here. I had fifteen seconds. I can’t explain why I had to change them. A vague, all-powerful compulsion, a maddening, itching, burning desire to eliminate a variable, the outlying, the line outside a stone-set column. I rushed over to the supplies. Fifteen seconds, as I grabbed desperately for fresh gloves. Sweat dripped down my face. Acid rivers stung in my eyes, panic mounting, driven into my head like a spike. The gloves caught in the box. Blind anguish now. Breathing ragged, heart straining in petrol-driven tachycardia, bursting, sputtering. The gloves pulled free, and I snapped them on. I hurried back to my position. Two seconds to spare. Relief, joyous and flooding, poured over me. Deescalation, tranquil as water. Normality and routine. I made my incision, and began. Blood spilled bright over my gloves. I smiled. I was home.
The memories call to me
Dulcet tones through lost hours of night
Descending like ashes blown
From a lone cigarette light
Of times loved, of faces seen
They rot to me
Bathed in the forlorn glow
Of a laughing neon screen
It’s time for more wacky adventures from Friend 1 and Friend 2! Again, not particularly original and without context. I don’t even think anyone else finds these amusing, but oh well. I guess I just like trying to write snarky dialogue.
So, I read an article about public litigation. It gave me an idea.
You shouldn’t get ideas.
Its my ideas that will be our ticket out of this hellhole, and straight into McDuck Manor. So you should pay attention.
Straight into what?
You never watched Duck Tales?
No. Scrooge McDuck frightened me. I used to have nightmares where his head would rotate, and would start reading me a list of my sins.
This possibly the first time I have ever been lost for words. So I’ll just pretend you never said that, and move back to my idea.
As long as this isn’t like the time you tried to build your own microwave. You nearly wiped out the neighborhood.
That was only a prototype, of course there would be a few kinks to work out.
I kept telling you that they don’t run on petrol.
Would you listen to me? The article said that people can sue for compensation if they get hurt in a public place.
I was thinking, what if you did it on purpose? I mean, it’d be simple. Trip over drain, scream for a bit, compensation, solid gold toilet.
It is an interesting idea, but you would mind if I pointed out a few things?
You’ll spend a lot of money and a huge amount of time in court. It isn’t like going to some sort of ‘Idiot ATM’.
What if I asked for money in hand, and threatened to sue if they didn’t give it over?
That’s extortion. It’s when .. oh, never mind. You’ll find out at your trial.
Insanity defense. I’ll just stick pencils up my nose, call everyone ‘Suzie’, and pretend that I’ve lost my mind.
Shut up. I’m being ambitious. It’s my new thing.
That can’t be a thing.
Who are you, the thing police? I’ll make crotch kicking my next thing if you keep being so negative.
In the spirit of cooperation, I could hit you in the head with this pipe that I found, would that help?
That’s not really an accident. Plus it’d probably, you know, kill me.
Yeah, I guess you’re right. But whats the point of having a pipe if you can’t use it?
Would you shut up about that pipe!
But look at it! It’s so .. big.
Wait, weren’t the council replacing all the pipes around here? I remember walking past the construction site and thinking that I could use a cement mixer. And I’m sick of them waking me up in the morning.
Yeah, a few blocks from here. And you mean at three?
It’s morning somewhere. That’ll be my first target. The council must have some pretty deep pockets – I mean, how else could they afford all those bins?